5 Tips for Job Offer Negotiation

Getting a job offer is exciting, rewarding and oftentimes met with a huge sigh of relief. But what if the offer isn’t all it was cracked up to be?

According to “Women Don’t Ask – Negotiation and the Gender Divide” by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, individuals will stand to lose upwards of $500,000 by the age of 60 if they don’t partake in salary negotiations when offered a new position. Although there can be more to negotiate than just salary, becoming comfortable with negotiation is invaluable for your career.

Still feeling uneasy? Here are 5 tips to remember when negotiating a job offer.

  1. Be Realistic
    Regardless if you’re interested in negotiating salary, benefits or contract details, it’s imperative that your requests be realistic. If an employer offers a base salary of $40k with two weeks of vacation, it’s unlikely that a counter of $65k and four weeks of vacation will be obtainable. After receiving your initial offer, take the time to do some research to make sure your counter fits within the going rate for your position and industry. If you find yourself in a significantly higher range than your research findings, you might be overqualified for the position and should consider if this is the right move for your career.

What is a realistic counter offer? According to Business Insider, a 10 to 20% increase is common for a counter offer, taking into consideration the company’s initial offer, your current salary (if you have one), years of experience and the geographic location of the position.

  1. Start out High and be Specific
    Whether you decide you’d like four weeks of vacation instead of two, or a base salary of $65,500k instead of $55k, you should always begin a counter offer with an exact number that is higher than what you’re actually seeking. Presenting a specific number shows the employer that you’ve done your research, and starting out high gives you the flexibility to still get the amount you want, even if your employer presents a counter to your counter offer.
  2. Be Prepared for your Employer to Say No
    Although presenting a counter offer is extremely common and won’t harm your relationship with a potential employer, there is always a chance that they won’t be able to accommodate your requests. If that is the case, it will be up to you to decide if the employer’s final offer is something you would be comfortable living with.
  3. Prioritize Your Negotiation Requests 
    It’s the norm for candidates to negotiate two or three aspects of an offer. However, four or five requests can become increasingly difficult for an employer to accommodate – especially for lower level employees. When countering a job offer, prioritize the elements you’re unhappy with and begin negotiations with your top areas of concern. If there are more than four areas that you are unhappy with, you may want to explore other options.
  4. Remain Professional During Negotiations 
    When negotiating, it’s important to be firm so your requests are clearly stated. However, you also need to make sure you aren’t portraying yourself as arrogant, rude or disrespectful when declining, presenting and even accepting your counter offers – especially if they aren’t what you initially hoped they would be. If you’re countering an offer, that usually means you have an interest in working for that company, meaning it’s vital to be respectful so you don’t burn any bridges before you’re first day. 

Although it can seem nerve-racking, especially if it’s your first time countering an offer, fear not! Odds are, you are not the first person to negotiate with this employer and we can assure you that you won’t be the last. Companies want their employees to be happy in their positions, so it’s okay to make the effort to ensure that you will be.